Proposal for Tanglin Club to be high-rise complex

At the Tanglin Club's AGM today, a resolution being tabled is the addition of 11 more guest rooms. But two former club presidents want to maximise the potential of the land.
At the Tanglin Club's AGM today, a resolution being tabled is the addition of 11 more guest rooms. But two former club presidents want to maximise the potential of the land.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Former presidents want property rebuilt as mixed commercial-recreational tower

A proposal to redevelop part of The Tanglin Club could add another towering commercial complex near Orchard Road.

The club in Stevens Road will hold its annual general meeting (AGM) today. Among the proposed resolutions is a plan by the club's development and planning sub-committee to add 11 more guest rooms.

But former club presidents Joseph Chew and Sim Yong Chan have proposed an even more ambitious plan.

In a letter submitted by hand on May 6 to the club's general manager, Ms Josie Tulipano, they asked the club to consider building a high-rise recreational and commercial development instead.

Should their proposal be included in the AGM agenda, club members will have at least two different redevelopment ideas to consider .

Under the resolution on guest rooms, the additions will complement 16 existing ones, which earned $1.1 million in revenue for the club's financial year to Jan 31, 2016. The new rooms are to be built on the fifth level of the club's existing Sports and Recreation Complex, capped at a cost of $2.1 million.

But Mr Chew and Mr Sim have suggested setting up a task force, instead, to look into maximising the potential of the land on which the sports complex, tennis courts and squash courts are located.

The task force will then apply to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) for permission to build a high-rise mixed recreational and commercial development there.

Their proposal is inspired by the redevelopment done by the Hong Kong Club in 1984, when it rebuilt its existing clubhouse - in Jackson Road in central Hong Kong - into a 21-storey mixed recreational and commercial building.

Developers Hongkong Land agreed to bear the costs of demolishing the old clubhouse and constructing the new building in exchange for rental income of the 17 upper storeys in the building for 25 years. The first four storeys were used as the club's new clubhouse.

In a letter to club members, Mr Chew and Mr Sim said Hongkong Land made about HK$100 million a year during the 25-year period.

The duo added that Tanglin Club's financial position will be "enviable" if it successfully pulls off a Hong Kong Club-style redevelopment.

They said they got an in-principle approval from URA in 1995 to redevelop a part of the club's land into a high-rise mixed recreational and commercial building. The approval lapsed as there was no follow-up.

Architect Liu Thai Ker has agreed to be an adviser to the task force, should it be set up, said Mr Chew and Mr Sim in their letter. Mr Liu is now senior director of RSP Architects Planners and Engineers, which has been involved in the design of The Tanglin Club.

Mr Chew and Mr Sim could not be reached for comment.

Property experts said it is too early to assess the market potential of the proposed building as the proposal is still in its infancy.

"There are too many unknown factors to know for certain whether this proposed venture would be profitable," said Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy for SLP International Property Consultants. Factors he cited include the design and size of the building and the allocation of space.

However, Mr Alan Cheong, Savills Singapore research head, said "although the club is not located adjacent to an MRT station, a case can still be made for an office building".

He said club members who run businesses may also find themselves as tenants, as "renting an office above the club may give them the right setting for a one-two punch to close deals".

"The use of the site in its present state is not the best way. From a monetary perspective, the inclusion of commercial uses would likely be a benefit," Mr Cheong added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2016, with the headline 'Proposal for Tanglin Club to be high-rise complex'. Print Edition | Subscribe